McLaren is one of the most respected names in automotive world.
The Woking, England-based supercar specialists has been responsible for some of the fastest and most memorable cars ever built.
With the 650S, McLaren has a world class high performance offering to rival the latest and greatest from Ferrari and Lamborghini.
Introduced in the middle of 2014, the 650S is built upon technology derived from the McLaren’s MP4-12C supercar and P1 hypercar.
“McLaren is a fast moving company, continually striving for improvements and technical advantages,” McLaren Automotive CEO Mike Flewitt said in a statement at the time of the car’s release. “Everything we’ve learnt from the 12C and the McLaren P1 has gone into the design and development of the McLaren 650S.”
A few months ago, Business Insider spent some time behind the wheel of a Tarocco Orange McLaren 650S Spider. Needless to say, we didn’t lack for attention.
Here’s how it went.
We picked up the 650S Spider tester from Classic Car Club Manhattan. No shock here: it immediately caught the eye of just about everyone it passed. I mean, just look at those doors! They're a signature McLaren feature.
By the time we made it to Business Insider's offices on Fifth Avenue, we had gotten used to seeing a lot of camera phones aimed at the McLaren. Although I don't usually pose for pictures with the test cars, I couldn't resist the temptation this time.
Don't let the bright orange paint and the futuristic appearance fool you into thinking this is some kind of toy car for grownups. The 650S has serious cred, even if it looks as though it should be on a mission to Jupiter.
McLaren's first road car was the $1 million F1 hypercar. Only 106 F1s were ever built. The top speed is 240 mph. F1s can easily fetch more than $10 million at auction.
In 2010, McLaren decided to commit to producing road cars and set up McLaren Automotive. The new company's first product was the MP4-12C.
Although the MP4 had all the power and performance customers expected from McLaren, some people complained that the car lacked the soul and edginess of its Italian rivals.
So McLaren took the 12C and updated the car with the styling and high-performance goodies of the P1 hypercar to create ...
Although our test car was equipped with a very cool retractable roof, the 650S can also be purchased ...
But the 650S is also a step below the half-million-dollar flagship supercars, like the Lamborghini Aventador. As-tested, our 650S test car tipped the price scales at more than $315,000.
Driving the McLaren, the immediate impression I got is that the engineers who designed and built this car fussed over every detail. Literally. Every. Detail.
Every slot, curve, and angle on the car serves a purpose. Nothing is there for show, despite the car's outrageous looks. Everything is intended to make the 650S go fast, propelled my masterful engineering efficiency.
Inside, the 650S is a study in minimalism. Each button and switch is strategically placed for ease of use. Nothing distracts from driving the car.
A big tachometer displayed sits prominently in the middle if the 650S's instrument cluster, just as it should in a high-performance car like this. You don't need to see the speed -- you can feel it. It's more important to know what the engine is doing.
Due to the construction of the McLaren's carbon-fibre passenger tub, the 650S was designed with a narrow center console.
As a result, the car's air conditioning controls are mounted on the doors. Yes, the doors. That leaves space for the center console's main occupants to be ...
... McLaren's IRIS infotainment system. I found it to be responsive, although it did take some time to get used to the interface.
But it does things other infotainment systems don't. For example, IRIS's visual depiction of the Holland Tunnel was quite cool.
On the road, the 650S is everything you would expect from the people that brought the world the F1 and P1 hypercars.
The 641-horsepower, 3.8-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 is mated to a seven-speed, dual-clutch transmission and mounted behind the driver's head. McLaren designed and built this compact yet mighty powerplant itself. The engine delivered smooth, effortless horsepower across the rev band.
McLaren also claims the car is good for a 3-second 0-60 mph run. Road and Track's testing returned a 0-60 time of 2.7 seconds.
The McLaren was truly in its element on the twisty roads of rural New Jersey. Into a corner, the 650's handling was surgical. Coming out of a the corner, the engine pulled like a healthy ox on Red Bull.
With the 650S, McLaren set out to create a car that's thrilling to drive, but that also has the soul of a continental supercar -- everything that was supposedly lacking in its predecessor.
So was McLaren successful? Yes. The 650S was a blast to drive both at highway speed and on windy roads at 35 mph. Over the several hundred miles I spent behind the wheel of the car, I was impressed by McLaren's attention to detail and the superb tuning of the 650's performance traits.
Then again, I shouldn't be surprised. Although it may not have quite the crazy allure of an Italian thoroughbred, it does carry the soul of the man whose name is emblazoned on the car. And Bruce McLaren didn't lack for soul.
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